70,000 Syrian refugees face aid cut as funds dry up

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Syrian refugees number 1.7 million in Turkey. Photo: UNHCR/O.Laban-Mattei

Some 70,000 displaced Syrians face having their food aid cut off as funds dry up for a UN pilot scheme which provides refugees with electronic cards that they can use to buy essential goods.

The problem has surfaced in Turkey, which hosts 1.7 million refugees as the civil war in neighbouring Syria enters its fifth year.

Until now World Food Programme has provided help to refugees in 20 camps, but it's had to pull out of nearly half of them owing to the cash shortfall. Daniel Johnson has the details.

In January this year the UN food agency helped 220,000 Syrian refugees, but that number dropped to 150,000 in February as funds dried up, it said Friday.

The electronic card scheme has been trialled in 20 Turkish camps and WFP says it's been a success in replacing traditional food vouchers.

It's also helped put more than $700 million back into the host country's economy, says WFP's Elisabeth Byrs.

She added that Turkey has the highest number of Syrian refugees and has spent more than $4 billion hosting them since the start of the conflict in 2011.

"WFP funding situation for Syrian refugees in Turkey remains critical and we are unable to provide assistance to the same level as before."

For the time being Turkish authorities have stepped in to plug the funding gap, but WFP said refugees living outside camps remain vulnerable and can only be helped if the agency receives more cash.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations.

Duration: 1'00"

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